A publication for the faculty, staff, administrators, and friends of California State University, Chico
Nov. 5, 2009 Volume 40 / Number 2

 

Lecturer Representatives Speak: The Answer is AB 656

The CSU is faltering, and the world is taking notice. In an article titled “Before the Fall: California Universities in Trouble” (The Economist, Aug 8, 2009) the authors point out that “academic excellence is likely to be the first victim” of budget cuts to higher education in California. However, this claim is not entirely true. Although there is no question that academic excellence has suffered and will continue to suffer, the first real victims of these cuts were the faculty members who lost their jobs through nonreappointment.

You may have heard that in response to the budget crisis, CSU, Chico was able to avoid laying off faculty members. This is only true because the University does not consider nonreappointment to be a layoff. The fact is that this summer and fall more than 80 lecturers lost their jobs due to nonreappointment at CSU, Chico alone, and approximately 2,000 lecturers lost their jobs in the CSU system.

The CSU system has seen a drastic decrease in funding over the last two years. In fact, the overall cuts in funding since September 2008 have totaled more than $1 billion—that is enough money to fund 13 CSU campuses for one year! It is obvious that cuts of this magnitude are having, and will continue to have, very real negative consequences for our campus.

We believe that our state leadership must act now to fully fund higher education—to save jobs, yes, but also to support the economic growth of the state of California. Without a top-notch higher educational system, we cannot produce the workforce that a strong and growing economy demands. That is why the California Faculty Association is backing AB 656, Higher Education: Oil & Natural Gas Extraction Tax. This bill provides a dedicated, stable funding source (in tandem with the State General Fund) for the CSU, UC, and community college systems. Sponsored by Albert Torrico (D – 20th Assembly District), AB 656 creates the California Higher Education Fund (CHEF), a foundation that would receive monies from a 9.9 percent tax for oil and natural gas extraction in California. This model has been in operation in the state of Texas for nearly 100 years and is the funding source for the University of Texas (Alaska has a similar model). While not a complete solution to our current budgetary problems, AB 656 provides a dedicated source of funding that is not subject to the ups and downs of the economy and the state’s budget.

We also believe that the leaders of the CSU administration have a solemn responsibility to fight for stable funding for the CSU. Therefore, we find it both confusing and extremely disappointing that the CSU Board of Trustees has recently rejected the opportunity to support AB 656. We strongly urge the CSU administration and all California citizens to support AB 656 in order to save and rebuild the CSU.

Gail Beterbide and Curtis Peldo
co-lecturer representatives, California Faculty Association